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Cadets learn about aviation careers

Submitted photos From left are Capt. Bruce Dawson, 2d Lt Carol Whetsell, C/2d Lt Tyler Chewning, C/SSgt Cody Gibson, C/A1C Alex Garcia, C/TSgt Clark Bailey, 2d Lt Roger Tysor and Capt. Debbie Tysor.

BRIDGEPORT — Eight members of the Elkins Composite Squadron Civil Air Patrol attended a weekend of learning and fun at the third annual WV Wing Aerospace Education Weekend at the Robert C. Byrd Aerospace Education Center held on Nov. 22-24.

Civil Air Patrol members from across the state slept in an airplane hangar, participated in a variety of classroom activities and toured local aviation companies Bombardier Aerospace and Pratt Whitney.

Capt. Bruce Dawson, Aerospace Education Officer at the Elkins Composite Squadron, is also the West Virginia Wing Assistant Aerospace Education Officer and an aviation instructor at the center. Upon joining CAP just three years ago, Dawson wanted to create an experience that would showcase aviation opportunities to cadets. He worked with the RCBAEC and the local aviation community as he developed a fun program that showcased aviation in West Virginia.

“We’re trying to get the kids to realize what there is in West Virginia in the aerospace industry… there is a big footprint in aerospace that nobody knows is here” said Dawson.

During the weekend, members learned about human factors in aviation, designed simple electric motors and used templates and tools to create a balsa wood airplane, with the assistance of instructors and students from Pierpont Community Technical College. During their aviation tours, members saw commercial aircraft in various stages of repair and refurbishment, and saw newly designed engines and parts being crafted by machinists and technicians.

Cadets learn about aviation careers during a tour of Bombardier Aerospace.

WV Wing Commander Col Connie Moody summed up the experience by saying, “Who knew West Virginia had an aviation industry? It gives me great pleasure in opening up new career paths for our cadets and senior members in aviation: aircraft mechanic, avionics technicians, and aircraft structure training. Introducing our cadets and senior members to opportunities in aviation other than being a pilot is rewarding during the WV Wing Cadet Aerospace Education Weekend.”

The Elkins Composite Squadron meets weekly at the Elkins-Randolph County Regional Airport. Meetings are held on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. Visit www.facebook.com/capelkins/ for more information.

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of more than 80 lives annually.

CAP’s 66,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies.

In addition, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to over 28,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs.

Cadet Cody Gibson works with an instructor in creating a balsa wood aircraft.

Visit www.GoCivilAirPatrol.com or www.CAP.news for more information.

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